Hi, I'm Cliff Atkinson - an author, speaker and consultant who unlocks the true value of clear communication

Throw Out Your Sales Pitch and Win More Business

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If you’re part of a team that delivers pitches to win new business, you’re keenly aware of the value of the brief and precious time you have to meet in person with your prospective clients.

Yet, with millions often at stake in new and recurring revenue, you would be surprised to learn that many organizations don’t invest much in making sure their in-person pitches are as effective as they can be.

Some of the most common mistakes that sales teams make when they pitch are:

  • Doing the same thing they’ve always done, because it worked in the past
  • Orienting the pitch around them, rather than their audience
  • Neglecting the primal role of emotion in decision-making
  • Starting and closing with a whimper rather than a bang
  • Losing control of the narrative arc of the pitch

If you’ve fallen into any of these familiar ruts, it’s time to shake things up and freshen up your approach.

Here are 3 things you can do to begin:

  1. Start with a “black box.” Let go of the past and view your block of time and physical space like a black box theater, stripped away of everything you’ve done before. What could you do here that’s completely new, fresh, interesting and effective? How could you use projected image, sound, lighting, props, infographics and video to craft a well-designed, immersive experience?  What would it look like if you were to transform the pitch environment from a stuffy room into an engaging theater of persuasion?
  2. Do a mind meld. If you still have slides with headlines that read “About Us,” “Our Capabilities” and “Our Team,” it’s time to send those back to 1999 where they belong. Instead, create a new set of slides that your team uses internally for planning and strategy, with a photo and profile of each decision-maker involved in the approval process, both inside and outside the pitch room. Print the slides, tape them to a wall, and discuss with your team: What do we know about these individuals who will be in our audience? What’s going on in their minds? What are the reasons they would say no to our proposal? As you merge minds with the real and specific people who will be in the room, it will become easier to distill and tailor your content specifically to their needs.
  3. Anchor in a story. With your audience profile complete, it’s time to orient the entire narrative arc of your pitch around taking them from Point A (a challenge they face) to Point B (where they want to be). It will take the collective smarts of your team to come up with the single best story that will drive your pitch from a strong start to a strong ending. Once you find it, you’ll have the clear direction that helps you decide what goes into the live meeting, and what remains in printed materials. A winning story makes the audience the main character, appeals to emotion, accelerates understanding, clearly articulates benefits, increases memorability, and makes it easy for those in the room to advocate for you when the pitch is over.

Are you willing to throw out your current corporate sales pitch, if it means the possibility of winning more business?

For many companies facing increasing competition in a crowded marketplace, the answer is yes.

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